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What are they?
Environmental issues are harmful aspects of human activity on the biophysical
environment. Environmentalism, a social and environmental movement that
started in the 1960s, addresses environmental issues through advocacy,
education and activism. current problems faced by the environment-
The carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere
has already exceeded 390 parts per million (NOAA) (with total "long-term" GHG
exceeding 455 parts per million). (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Report) This level is considered a tipping point. "The amount of greenhouse gas in
the atmosphere is already above the threshold that can potentially cause
dangerous climate change. We are already at risk...It's not next year or next
decade, it's now." Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
Climate disasters are on the rise. Around 70 percent of disasters are now
climate related – up from around 50 percent from two decades ago.
These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price
tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate
related disasters, compared to1.7 billion in the previous decade. The
cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and
2008. Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated
flooding and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of
local communities in the absence of strong concerted action." (OCHA)
"Climate change is not just a distant future threat. It is the main driver
behind rising humanitarian needs and we are seeing its impact. The
number of people affected and the damages inflicted by extreme
weather has been unprecedented.
 Major current environmental issues may include climate change,
pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion etc. The
conservation movement lobbies for protection of endangered species
and protection of any ecologically valuable natural areas.
Scientific grounding
The level of understanding of Earth has inbvased markedly in recent
times through science especially with the application of the
scientific method. Environmental science is now a multi-disciplinary
academic study taught and researched at many universities. This is
used as a basis for addressing environmental issues.
Large amounts of data has been gathered and these are collated
into reports, of which a common type is the State of the
Environment publications. A recent major report was the Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment, with input from 1200 scientists and released
in 2005, which showed the high level of impact that humans are
having on ecosystem services.
Environmental issues are addressed at a regional, nation or
international level by government organisations.
The largest international agency, set up in 1972, is the United Nations
Environment Programme. The International Union for Conservation
of Nature brings together 83 states, 108 government agencies, 766
Non-governmental organizations and 81 international organizations
and about 10,000 experts and scientists from countries around the
world.[1] International non-governmental organizations include
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and World Wide Fund for Nature.
environmental law and this is done to differing degrees around the
Sustainability is the key to preventing or reducing the effect of
environmental issues. There is now clear scientific evidence that
humanity is living unsustainably, and that an unprecedented
collective effort is needed to return human use of natural resources
to within sustainable limits. For humans to live sustainably, the Earth's
resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished.
Concerns for the environment has prompted the formation of Green
parties, political parties that seek to address environmental issues.
Initially these formed in Australia, New Zealand and Germany but
are now present in many other countries.